Tag Archives: difference

St. George’s Day

Happy St. George’s Day to all those celebrating the national holiday here in England.  Also, to Greece, Portugal, Russia, to name just a few other countries who also share St. George as a patron saint.   St. George himself may have been born in Asia Minor and joined the Roman army…  so a real global hero, as far as we know.  In fact, very little at all is known about him, the persecution of his Christian beliefs, his fate under Emperor Diocletian and even his name.  But why let facts get in the way of a good story?  Certainly fighting the dragon should be interpreted metaphorically, we hope.

The less we know for certain about a person, the more we can hang our hopes and dreams on their mysterious (and hopefully broad) shoulders.  Just look at the allure of Nick Clegg over the past week or so!

I think it is charming to retell old legends that maintain the mystery of a person that symbolises so much to so many people (I am referring to St. George again here, rather than the LibDem leader): chivalry, courage, defending the weak, even patron saint of farmers for some strange reason.  Finding out more about the ‘real’, historical St. George can only be a let down.

However, when discovering  a new culture or country, I think ‘myth-making’ and maintaining a mystique of difference and impenetrability is not helpful.  I have read enough bad science about how we can never hope to understand the heart of Japan, the soul of India, the Russian spirit…  No, we are not all the same underneath it all, but we can listen to, communicate with, learn from each other.   And even if the difference will always be there (after all, am I not different from my parents, my children, my husband?), we can still respect and love each other, even without the mystique.

What do you think: is that ‘unknown’ element an essential part of the attraction of a person or culture or country?

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Who wants to be serious all the time?

Some of my friends have told me:  ‘Sanda, we really like your blog, but do you have to be so earnest all the time?’  So, just for you, my dears, here is an easier read for a change.  I thought I would share with you some of my favourite quotes about culture, change and just getting along with people.

Culture Quotes:

Trust Gandhi to encapsulate in one quote all that my work and my company, The Culture Broker, is about:  ‘I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides  and my windows to be stuffed.  I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible.  But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.’

Octavio Paz, who was both a writer and a diplomat, also echoes my thoughts very well: ‘What sets the world in motion is the interplay of differences… Life is plurality, death is uniformity.’

Margaret Mead, of course, was an anthropologist, so not surprisingly she wrote: ‘If we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities, and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse gift will find a fitting place.’

Quotes about Change:

Constant development is the law of life, and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent drives himself into a false position.  (Gandhi again – that man seems to have produced one memorable quote after another)

The pessimist complains about the wind, the optimist expects it to change, the realist adjusts the sails. (W.A. Ward)

Our world has greatly changed; it has become much smaller.  However, our perceptions have not evolved at the same pace; we continue to cling to old national demarcations and the old feelings of ‘us’ and ‘them’. (Dalai Lama)

We are moving toward a global economy.  One way of approaching that is to pull the covers over your head.  Another is to say: It may be more complicated, but that’s the world I’m going to live in, I might as well be good at it. (Phil Condit – ex-CEO of Boeing)

And finally, on a more light-hearted note, here is a quote that seems to be doing the rounds on Flickr and blogs, but no one quite knows where it comes from:  ‘Every time I find the meaning of life, they change it.’

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